Sage Northcutt ’embracing’ underdog status heading into ONE on TNT 4.
Northcutt is scheduled to face legend and multiple-time former ONE lightweight champion and current No. 4-ranked lightweight Shinya “Tobikan Judan” Aoki of Japan at ONE on TNT 4, which takes place from the Singapore Indoor Stadium in Singapore on Wednesday, April 28. The event is the final installment in the ONE on TNT series, which will broadcast live on B/R Live and TNT.
Northcutt knows he’s coming in as an underdog against the veteran Aoki, who has enjoyed multiple reigns atop ONE’s lightweight division.
“I’m definitely embracing [underdog status] for sure,” Northcutt told SCMP MMA. If anything, it’s pumping me up even more.”
This is the second time Northcutt has been pitted against a combat sports legend.
“He’s a legend in the sport, and he was a champion just eight months ago,” he said. “I’m excited and honored to have such a great opponent and such a big fight lined up…everything has been going great. I’ve been training hard, getting ready.”
Against Aoki, Northcutt faces one of the most dangerous grapplers in all of MMA. Aoki boasts 46 career victories, featuring a whopping 29 wins by submission.
Northcutt and his coaches at Team Alpha Male understand the specific challenges the 25-year-old faces against Aoki, and they are no doubt working overtime to come up with a solid fight strategy to put him in the best position to win.
“You know me and my coaches, Uriah Faber, we’ll come up with a good game plan for sure. We know his strengths. We know what to look out for, for the most part. We’re just preparing for that,” Northcutt said. “I’m training super hard, giving it my all, going out there and training so many hours every single day as hard as I possibly can. Hopefully, I’m looking forward to my best performance yet.”
If Northcutt beats Aoki convincingly, he believes it will be enough to make a case to boost him up the lightweight rankings, and he’s hoping he could be considered for a shot at the lightweight title.
“I’m always thinking about the title, that’s for sure. But I’m just taking this fight first. Then we’ll look for the next fight,” he said.
Before Northcutt steps back into the circle, ONE Championship returns on Wednesday, April 7 with ONE on TNT, the first installment of a four-part event series broadcast on US prime time via B/R Live and TNT.
The main event features a flyweight showdown between reigning ONE Flyweight World Champion Adriano Moraes and ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion Demetrious Johnson. In the co-main event, multiple-time world champion Eddie Alvarez takes on No. 1-ranked lightweight contender Iuri Lapicus.